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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Daryl Hannah (main picture), with CHERIE BLAIR, STEPHEN HAWKING, RICHARD GRIFFITHS and JOHN CLEESE.

DARYL HANNAH

Los Angeles police this week evicted Daryl Hannah from a tree, where she had spent most of the last month. For the Hollywood actress, this is just the latest attempt to make waves for her environment and local community.

"I spend about 10 to 12 hours a day, and spent the night there last night. We call it a watchtower." Thus Daryl Hannah, interviewed earlier this month, explained how she had come to be perched in the branches of a walnut tree on a Los Angeles urban farm.

Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah speaks to the press from her walnut perch
For 23 days, Hannah and her fellow campaigners had held a vigil at the garden oasis in a gritty southern part of the city. They were hoping to raise enough funds to keep the land from falling into the hands of developer Ralph Horowitz, who has made public his plans to build a warehouse on the site.

Hannah reported at the time, "We call the platform up in the tree 'the office' because everybody sits there on the cell phone calling everybody they can think of to raise awareness about this farm." Other celebrities lending their support included Martin Sheen, Ed Harris and Leonardo DiCaprio.

After a long battle with Los Angeles City Council, Mr Horowitz was recently granted ownership and, on Tuesday, an eviction order was finally enforced.

Impassioned podcaster

More than 65 police, some in riot gear, turned up at daybreak, to arrest the protestors, many of whom had chained themselves to picnic tables. Police cut through tree-branches to get to Hannah and a fellow sitter.

For Hannah, trying to save this "place of safety and respite from the concrete jungle" is but the latest episode in a long-time personal crusade to preserve the environment.

Her own website delivers podcasts on subjects ranging from eco-friendly architecture and vegan junkfood to the gorillas of Rwanda and even the benefits of hemp.

Daryl Hannah
In more usual garb: Hannah glams up for a Hollywood party
She is regular television contributor to discussions on alternative energy sources. Her own car is a 1984 Chevrolet powered by bio-diesel fuel and her home in Colorado runs on solar power.

All of this, from an actress who made her biggest screen impression on the public consciousness first as a futuristic replicant, then as a mermaid.

After her big break in the 1982 Blade Runner, and bigger impact in Splash a couple of years later, it seemed Daryl Hannah was destined for roles that called for her pale-eyed, other-worldly looks and winsome, appealingly gauche manner.

She enjoyed a string of hits throughout the 1980s, appearing in films such as Legal Eagles, Roxanne, Wall Street and Steel Magnolias.

Eclectic taste in men

The 1990s saw good roles harder to come by, but she had TV success with Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, and gained creative credibility with her own award-winning short film, The Last Supper.

Despite her enduring appeal, thirst for knowledge and being lauded as a great screen beauty, Hannah, now 45, has always professed to having problems with self-esteem, dating from when she was "a thin and geeky child, with legs like pins, and knobs for knees".

Apart from her looks, Hannah's childhood was disrupted by the abrupt departure of her father when she was seven. Her close relationship with her billionaire step-father, Jerrold Wexler, and five new step-siblings, didn't stop young Daryl became so withdrawn that she was diagnosed as borderline autistic.

Daryl Hannah
Dreamy, other-worldly looks made her a star in the 1980s
She also suffers from agoraphobia, but kept this secret for a long time, fearing it would hinder her career.

As her screen work has diminished, she has become rather better known for her relationships, where she has proved to have an eclectic taste. Her first boyfriend was the singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, who plucked her out of the audience at one of his concerts when she was 17.

They were together for nearly a decade until an acrimonious parting in 1989. She also spent five on-off years with the late John F Kennedy Jnr, then America's most eligible bachelor.

This era was compromised by constant rumours that his mother Jackie disapproved of his involvement with an actress.

Screen renaissance

Val Kilmer and the singular David Blaine are both exes. But these days, Hannah claims to have undergone "some psychological evaluation and addressed some of my fears". She insists, she says, on "being treated well".

On-screen, too, she has had a renaissance, at the hands of Quentin Tarantino in his Kill Bill series. In both instalments so far, she has played Elle Driver, an eye-patched assassin described by Hannah as "despicable, amoral, arrogant and vile".

Daryl Hannah
Hannah was escorted to the ground by LA police and firefighters
In these films, she gets to trade forearm blows and even samurai swords with Uma Thurman, and plays "as fierce a protagonist as any male could be".

Away from the camera, the actress has described occasions when she, not once but twice, chased down muggers in New York City, brought them to the ground and then sat on them waiting for the police.

But the same woman has also voiced hopes of wishing to do good work and even becoming a professional midwife, saying "Bringing life into the world is the most beautiful feeling I've ever had."

This, then, is Daryl Hannah, the complex character who spent most of the last month in a walnut tree and then shouted in defiance as the police brought her back to earth: somebody always dreaming of a better planet, and willing to shake her fist in its pursuit.


CHERIE BLAIR

The Prime Minister's wife flew more than 6000 miles for one day in court - and was forced to sit in the public gallery. A Malaysian judge ordered her to move from the lawyers' section, during a hearing to decide whether she should represent a client in that country's federal court. Conservative backbencher Nigel Evans questioned tax payers funding such journeys. Mrs Blair told reporters she was only there "to observe".

STEPHEN HAWKING

Celebrated astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has suggested that humans should make plans to move to Mars or the Moon in case our planet is destroyed. The best-selling author told an audience in Hong Kong that we should "spread into space for the survival of the species". Hawking also revealed his plans to write a children's book. He will team up with his daughter Lucy to "explain the wonders of the universe".

RICHARD GRIFFITHS

British actor Richard Griffiths helped make Broadway history, winning a Tony award for best actor for his performance in Alan Bennett's The History Boys. The play won six trophies in all, equalling the record set by Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, back in 1949. Griffiths, who plays maverick teacher Hector, was given his prize by Julia Roberts. He had earlier told the audience, "You are all insanely talented people."

JOHN CLEESE

The man behind the Ministry of Silly Walks and foul-tempered creation Basil Fawlty is to pass his skills to a new generation. John Cleese plans to write the history of comedy, from silent screen classics to The Office, containing his "insights gleaned from a lifetime in the business of making people laugh". But Cleese, it seems, is retiring from the field, explaining, "I can never do better than Fawlty Towers."

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Caroline Frost





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